Temecula Valley Unified’s school board president Joseph Komrosky has responded to criticism from Gov. Gavin Newsom, doubling down on his decision to block a textbook containing references to LGBT activist Harvey Milk, whom Komrosky called a “pedophile” last month.
Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom took to Twitter to blast Komrosky for his comment about Milk, an openly gay activist and politician who was assassinated in 1978.
In a press conference on June 7, Komrosky said that his comment did not refer to Milk’s sexual orientation, but to reports that Milk had a sexual relationship with a minor.
“I'll ask you one simple question, governor—do you approve of any 33-year-old person, regardless of their gender identity or sexual preference, having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old?” Komrosky asked.
Komrosky said he would have the same objections to any such adult being featured in K–5th grade textbooks.
“My remarks about Mr. Milk are not based upon [his] being a homosexual. But rather, based upon an adult having a sexual relationship with a minor. I would express the same sentiments [against] any adult being [featured] in K–5 textbooks,” he said.
Trustee Danny Gonzalez, who also voted to block the textbook last month, echoed Komrosky’s sentiments at the press conference.
“There are plenty of historical figures who made great strides in [the LGBT] community that are not associated with inappropriate sexual relationships with children,” Gonzalez said. “Discussing matters of sexuality with children under 10 in a public-school setting is inappropriate. As a parent, this is not a conversation [my children will have with] anyone else but me. And especially not before we even learn about the birds and the bees.”
However, Gonzalez said that ultimately, the reason he voted against the curriculum was that he saw several faults in the district’s curriculum adoption process.
“As an advocate for parental rights, I noticed several fatal flaws in the adoptive process, and because of community concerns that were shared with me, I demanded a process that gave more opportunity for parents and the community to be involved in the selection of the [textbooks],” he said.
Gonzalez said he called on the board and administration to implement a process that includes more input from teachers, parents, and community members.
The trustee also addressed that the textbook’s adoption would have solved the issue of insufficient social studies textbooks in the district, as its currently used textbook was out of print and its workbooks were one-time-use.
Gonzalez also said there was enough time before the start of the fall semester for the board to find a more suitable social studies curriculum.
“The factual inaccurate charges that if we don't approve this specific curriculum right now ... we will have no social science curriculum to teach in the fall is patently false,” Gonzalez said. “Our teachers and students will have what they need at the start of [next school] year, and I’ll continue to work through this.”
“We urge the Board to adhere to the FAIR Act’s provisions and provide a comprehensive social sciences curriculum that reflects our diverse state and nation. This should include accurate representations of historical figures like Harvey Milk and not be influenced by personal bias,” Bonta said.
The debate centers around a book called “Social Studies Alive,” a textbook recently piloted in district schools that was brought before the board for official approval at a May 16 board meeting.
While the textbook does not mention Milk in its main text, its optional supplemental material features him.
Komrosky, along with Gonzalez and Trustee Jennifer Wiersma, voted against the book’s adoption, while Trustees Allison Barclay and Steven Schwarz voted in its favor.
About 50 parents and community members attended the board members’ press conference—with most attendees supporting the trustees’ decision.
“I feel that our culture is inundating our kids with so much unnecessary [sexual] content,” Chris Bout, a district parent, told The Epoch Times. “And we parents have to continually push back and stand up. I've extracted my kids from lessons before, and I make my voice known to the principal that I don't want them exposed to anything that might be sexualizing without my consent.”
Bout said he’s grateful to the trustees for filtering out inappropriate content before it reaches classrooms.
“Sometimes it's just too pervasive that it's embedded into the lesson plan,” he said. “I’m grateful we got men of righteousness here on the board to stand up for us.”
Some teachers, parents, and community members, however, oppose the board’s decision, saying they believe the curriculum was neutral.
The association held a rally on June 6 in protest of the school board’s rejection of the curriculum.